What is ‘dark tourism’?
‘Dark tourism’ involves travelling to places associated with death, suffering or the macabre. The term encompasses a huge range of destinations – from dungeons, cemeteries and battlefields to medical museums and haunted pubs. The purpose of these sites varies considerably; some, like the London Dungeon, are about entertaining visitors with gory stories. Others, including sites of human atrocity like camps of genocide and the memorials and museums dedicated to their memory, are important places of remembrance and education.
Recently theorists have become interested in why dark tourist sites, and the people who visit them, are on the increase. Undoubtedly part of the fascination with ‘dark’ places is a human interest in the more morbid aspects of life – queues of traffic resulting from rubbernecking at car crashes is perhaps testament to this fact, or receiving a link to something you really don’t want to click on, but sort of do… But many of these places also touch on something deeper than that. They offer people opportunities to contemplate life, death, health, illness, history and humanity in modern society. Travel Darkly is a resource for people wishing to visit these sites.
Sophie is a travel writer and founder of Travel Darkly. She’s had a long affair with all things morbid as well as with travel. Put the two together and you get dark tourism. Winning. She’s wandered through many ‘dark tourist’ sites, including the place where Ho Chi Mihn’s body is displayed, the Killing Fields and Teoul Seng in Vietnam and Cambodia with co-founder Katherine. She’s been to cemeteries all over the world too, from Recoleta in Buenos Aires to Pere Lachaise in Paris, and spent many lunch breaks in her (once) local, Hampstead Cemetery.
Sophie is also known for writing about train travel both freelance and on her blog sophieontrack.com.
Katherine is a history writer and researcher, and co-founder of Travel Darkly. She completed an MA in History at the University of Bristol after first studying the subject at York. Her dissertation focused on seventeenth-century public executions – turns out that this is not always a suitable dinner party topic. She loves all old things, but her particular research interests include crime and punishment in early modern England, and the history of medicine and mental illness.
Katherine has written guides for museums, plays and GCSE History learning resources, and has been writing content for travel websites for several years.